By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor
Even though MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Ron Palmquist technically retired 25 years ago, a weekend hardly constitutes a break in employment. Now, after 46 years of work, he is retiring for real.
Palmquist began representing fellow police officers while he was employed with Southfield Police Department, where he started as an Officer in 1970 and now, at the age of 70, is retiring from MAFF on Oct. 31, 2016.
A Retirement Open House in celebration of his hard work and dedication is planned from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 at the MAFF office. “Ron has been a big part of our organization,” MAFF staff wrote in the Open House flyer. “His knowledge and years of experience brought us to where we are today.”
But that’s not where his story begins. With an associates degree in mechanical engineering, Palmquist’s first career was at Chrysler, but a downturn in the economy two years later led him to law enforcement. “My father-in-law was a Detroit Police Officer and when I was working at Chrysler, I was picking up abandoned cars in Detroit and had some contact with Detroit Police Officers,” Palmquist said. “Some of the folks I talked to said ‘you ought to get into law enforcement.’” Back then, Southfield hired in officers and paid for them to go for their police academy training. “We even had to take a lie detector test. They don’t do that anymore,” he said.
Apparently those officers knew what they were talking about since Palmquist was among seven people hired in from 300 applicants. That’s also where he met MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner, who joined Southfield PD in 1971. “When he was President of Southfield Police Officers Association, I was the Secretary,” Palmquist said. “He went on to work with Carl (Parsell) and MAP. I continued my career until (December) 1991, I retired on a Friday and came to work the following Monday.
He’s seen a lot of changes in Southfield since then. “Toward the end of my career we were having a lot of action,” he said. “That was probably the beginning of the end for Northland (Mall). There were a lot of gang-related incidents. On my last day of work, there was a shooting at Northland.”
Now the mall is no more and Palmquist said the whole area is in need of revitalization. He’s also witnessed many changes in the Union. “I joined right after Carl passed away. Of course, there were less members than what we have today, a lot less members and less groups,” Palmquist said. “We certainly have grown quite a bit over the years since I started.”
The Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends program (FIRST), led by Drexel University Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Taylor of Dornsife School of Public Health, is working to share fire fighter safety research findings with fire fighters nationwide.
FIRST is a research enterprise based at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, organized to support the United States fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis.Their goal is to make their research findings publicly known and free to access. An article on a recently published manuscript in the American Journal of Health Behavior can be found here.
Through a newly awarded Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) funded grant supporting FIRST's partnership with the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), research on U.S. Fire Service safety culture will continue. More information on this research can be found here.
To learn more about the FIRST program, click here.
By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor
Jerald James has always enjoyed coming to the aid of others, so helping his fellow Detroit EMS co-workers resolve employment concerns was a natural transition for him. Now that he’s recently retired, James is taking his next step helping others as the newest MAFF Labor Relations Specialist.
“The one thing that attracted me to the union when I started (Detroit EMS) in 1997 was witnessing employees rights not being honored or respected and watching co-workers or peers really struggle with their rights and their benefits and wages,” James said.
James represented EMS workers for nearly two decades through his various positions at Detroit EMS, including EMS Superintendent and his most recent position as EMS Captain. He begins his new career with MAFF in September.
“Once I crossed into the union world, it became very rewarding to me to win a grievance or have a phone call and get some stuff straightened out,” he said. “It made the job dually rewarding - I was delivering babies and ... getting peoples’ jobs back when they were wrongly discharged. For a lot of people you end up saving their life or their careers when no one else would or could.”
James was a MAFF Union Steward since 2014, when EMS Supervisors joined MAFF. Now MAFF representatives are hoping EMTs and Paramedics will join the union as well.
“I was actually the union president for the group when we affiliated with MAFF,” James said. “To me, it was a natural transition. I really liked what I’m doing - I wouldn’t change it. I think this is a nice group of guys I’m dealing with too,” he said of Labor Relations staff.
Karoub Associates, the legislative representatives for Michigan Association of Police (MAP) and Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO), is seeking the passage of SB 218, a bill to provide continued, comparable health care coverage to the surviving spouse and dependents of a public safety officer killed in the line of duty. The bill would also extend those benefits to a public safety officer, their spouse and dependents if the public safety officer becomes permanently disabled on the job. To read the memo from Karoub Associates to the legislature, click here.
While Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) offers many services which improve their members’ employment situation, they also offer special member perks, providing valuable services at discount prices.
MAFF is able to offer members group rates on many services they utilize including:
- Discounted automotive and homeowners insurance.
- Free pre-retirement professional financial planning through Raider Dennis Agency.
- Discounted life and disability insurance and other products.
- Save up to 17% off select Apple products and third-party products through the Apple Government Member Purchase Program. Free standard shipping on orders of more than $50, free laser engraving on any iPod, exclusive promotions and online custom product configuration are also available.
For more details, click on the Member Rewards box on the Home Page or click here for other services.
MAFF Representatives believe there is more to a union than just negotiating wages and benefit improvements. Equally important is the protection of members’ rights and their jobs.
Today public safety workers face many threats to their employment from municipalities looking for ways to cut costs. Protecting union jobs from privatization and downsizing measures is just one of the ways MAFF is watching out for its membership.
MAFF also steps in when members are accused of wrongdoing on the job. Public safety workers know these accusations can quickly result in criminal charges. MAFF offers legal services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. MAFF attorneys can assist with Garrity statements when it matters the most. And there is no additional cost to members for this invaluable service.
When it comes to choosing Union representation, fire fighters and EMS workers can regain control of their work environment through Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF).
MAFF provides its members with the service and support they need to focus on their jobs.
Union represented employees should never experience fear of retaliation from their own Union. Verbal and written threats from an organization hired to represent you is simply unacceptable. And Union leaders should not sign contracts without a vote of the membership.
MAFF promises to provide members with the following rights:
• Members will vote on their local stewards and board members.
• Each unit automatically selects a representative to sit on the MAFF Executive Board.
• Only members will be allowed to vote on and ratify their contract.
• Members will not be threatened by Union attorneys with a lawsuit for speaking out at Union meetings.
• They will have bylaws developed by and voted on by the membership.
MAFF also guarantees it will provide members with:
• Attorneys 24/7 at no additional cost, to assist members with Garrity statements.
• Grievance and negotiations training for local stewards.
• Experts who will inform members of their legal rights under FLMA and FLSA.
Excerpted from news media and Adapt Pharma.com
Narcan Nasal Spray 4mg, the first and only FDA-approved Naloxone nasal spray for emergency treatment of opioid overdose, is being donated to law enforcement and first responders among others through the month of July 2016.
Narcan is an antidote that targets the brain receptors affected by opiate drugs like heroin. When administered, it can reverse the depression of the central nervous system, respiratory system, and hypo tension in a matter of seconds. “It blocks those receptors. It’s going to block off the high immediately,” said Kyle McKenzie, a paramedic with Pro Med.
If given to someone who isn’t experiencing an overdose, the drug becomes benign and has virtually no effect or side effects, according to Narcan drug makers, Adapt Pharma, Limited.
Adapt Pharma planned to donate 25,000 cartons of the life-saving drug to public safety and other community partners including Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.), the Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC), and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. In January, through a partnership with Clinton Health Matters Initiative, high schools were also offered a free carton of Narcan.
“This device will equip those in our communities - families, friends, caregivers and school nurses - with a tool they can rely on without need for medical training or expertise,” according to a statement from Mike Kelly, president of U.S. Operations at Adapt Pharma.
Adapt also offered donated product to city law enforcement agencies across the country who have been hit hardest by opioid-related overdoses. Naloxone can be administered intravenously or through a nasal spray.
The Carl Parsell Scholarship Fund was established in 1991 in memory of the law enforcement union movement pioneer. Parsell spent an unparalleled career thinking about the welfare of the employees he represented, always taking effective actions to constantly improve their economic status, working conditions, and future. The scholarship continues his legacy of improving the lives and futures of others, through education. Scholarships are awarded each year to Michigan family members of MAP, MAPE and MAFF union members. Funds for the scholarships are derived from the Annual Carl Parsell Memorial Scholarship Golf Outing, which took place this year June 9, 2016.
MAP Sergeant’s daughter excels in academics, softball and helping others
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Meaghan Barch has all the makings of a successful college student – she works hard to achieve excellent grades, has been admitted to advanced academic programs, worked in a profession related to her field of study, is involved in athletics, and volunteers her time to help others. So it’s no surprise the daughter of Beverly Hills Village Police Sergeant Peter D. Barch has been honored as a Carl Parsell Scholarship winner this year.
“The Carl Parsell Scholarship would assist me in paying for my undergraduate schooling, as I will be paying for my own education,” wrote Barch in her scholarship application. “I will be attending Oakland University (OU) in a pre-medical program. Upon my completion, I will attend medical school to become an obstetrics gynecologist, pediatrician or medical examiner.”
Barch, a Utica High School student with a 3.7 GPA, was selected as one of three 2016-17 recipients of the $2,500 scholarship. She will pursue a degree in Biology at OU.
“She proved to be an overachiever and a class leader,” said her fourth grade teacher, Linda DeCumen of Flickinger Elementary. “Her vivacious personality, intelligence and subtle humility took the school by storm. ... Throughout her junior high and high school career, Meaghan shared the little time she had tutoring students who needed extra help in math and reading in my classroom. She continually amazes me with her endless accomplishments.”
Barch served as Historian for the National Junior Honor Society, was a National Honor Society member, and Secretary and President of French Club. She was awarded for Outstanding AP U.S. History Student, received an All-Academic Team Award in Freshman Soccer and was a player and referee for American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). She was also involved in Sideline Cheer for Basketball, AYSO Nationals Team Player in 2014, and Beyond the LJ, a club formed to build a school in Africa through fundraising.
Barch received awards for: “A” Honor Roll, Outstanding MST Student and the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. Her scholastic achievements include being accepted to both the Utica Center for Mathmatics, Science and Technology (MST) and Utica Community Schools Academy for International Studies, both prestigious academically talented programs. Barch had to choose which program to pursue and opted for MST. She was also dual-enrolled in college while in high school, attending Utica DEEP Medical Science program through the University of Michigan – Flint Campus.
In the community, she served as a preschool leader for Vacation Bible School at Peace Lutheran Church, participated in St. Jude Walk, was a tutor, event volunteer and VIP Buddy for AYSO, where she also coached the undefeated U8 Boys soccer team and coaches U8 Girls soccer.
Barch is employed at 1st Choice Physical Therapy as an office tech, where she performs patient intake, ultrasounds and electric stimulation. Barch said she received training in the medical techniques while on the job. She also works a second job at Palazzo Grande Banquet Halls, where she was recently promoted from waitress to floor manager. Her medical training includes an internship at Signature Dentistry of Rochester, where she observed dental procedures and made dental impressions.
In addition to the Carl Parsell Scholarship, Barch also received a four-year scholarship from OU for $3,000 annually for her high GPA and ACT score of 28.
Daughter of MAP members learned importance of protecting and serving
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Kelcie LaTour was raised by parents whose duty it is to protect and serve others, so it’s no surprise that she also wants to pursue a career focused on helping others - an attribute that made her even more attractive as one of this year’s Carl Parsell Scholarship winners.
“My parents have taught me how important it is to give back,” LaTour wrote in her scholarship application. “I started delivering Meals on Wheels with my mom and discovered it made me feel so good to be able to help people.”
LaTour’s parents, MAP members Jack LaTour, a St. Clair Shores Police Sergeant, and Tricia LaTour, a Sterling Heights Police Officer, have a lot to be proud of as Kelcie heads off to Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to pursue a Physician’s Assistant degree while playing softball at GVSU. She takes with her the $2,500 Carl Parsell Scholarship to help reduce her college costs. She also received a 10% GVSU Softball Scholarship.
“My goal is to work at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, helping children affected with cancer,” LaTour wrote. “After watching my father battle the disease, it has driven me to want to make a change in other people’s lives so they don’t have to suffer.”
At Dakota High School, LaTour was active in sports playing basketball, varsity softball and volleyball, and serving as 2016 Varsity Softball Team Captain. She received several county awards including: All District Team, MAC Red Division Honorable Mention, Macomb County Honorable Mention First Base, First Team MAC Red Division, 2015 All Region Team and All County 2nd Team, 1st Base, and was voted Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Year in 2013-15.
With a 3.3 GPA, she was on the Honor Roll all four years as well as Macomb Area Conference All Academic Team.
LaTour has helped her community through sorting food during the annual Post Office canned food drive; delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound area residents; volunteering at Miracle League Network helping handicapped children enjoy softball; and teaching younger girls the game of softball.
“I have volunteered at softball camps and given younger girls free hitting lessons in hopes of having more girls fall in love with the game of softball,” she wrote.
“She has an unbelievable knowledge of the game and she strives to do her best at all times and by doing so is able to elevate the play of those around her as well,” wrote Macomb Dakota Assistant Varsity Coach Mike Downey, in a letter of recommendation. “Kelcie is an excellent teammate who always encourages everyone.”
“I also broke and continue to hold multiple school softball records,” LaTour wrote in her application.
“She owns the records for home runs in a season and for a career and the records for runs batted in for a season and for a career,” wrote Dakota Varsity Softball Coach Rick Fontaine in a letter of recommendation. “She has never missed or been late for a practice, never gave up on her herself or her teammates during a game, and showed an eagerness to learn and improve herself every day. Kelcie is well-respected by her peers and is a player that teammates rally around.”
“During the summer I work for Bello Woods Golf Course and play on a high level competitive travel softball team,” she wrote, adding she also babysits year round to save money for college.
Son of MAFF fire fighter is dedicated volunteer in pursuit of nursing career
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Brandon Warda understands the importance of community service and already has a jump start on his career in nursing, earning him the honor of receiving one of three $2,500 Carl Parsell Scholarships for the 2016-17 school year.
Warda, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, began working as a physical therapy tech while still attending Dakota High School in Macomb. He is the son of Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) member Jaroslaw Warda, a Macomb Township Fire Fighter who is also a design engineer at FCA Group.
Warda, who has a 3.6 GPA, plans to attend Oakland University. He works at Health Quest Physical Therapy in Shelby Township where he helps patients with their exercises and therapeutic procedures as directed by the Physical Therapist. A dedicated community volunteer, Warda was hired at Health Quest after volunteering there for three months. He also works a second job as a cook and dishwasher at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
“Within the last four years, I have participated in many activities and clubs including Key Club, National Honor Society, my high school boy’s soccer team, and many volunteer activities,” Warda wrote in his application. “I have participated in volunteer groups to better people outside of my school, such as tutoring elementary school children at the Boys and Girls Club as well as participating in my church as an altar boy.”
In school, Warda received recognition for academics, including being on Honor Roll every semester, good behavior and good acts. “Besides academics, I am also fluent in Polish,” he said. “That was actually my first language from when I was a kid. I would like to study abroad (in Poland) if I am able to.”
“By being able to become a nurse, I can pay back my community by possibly becoming a first responder in aid of patients that are in need of my help. If I was to work in the ICU or emergency services, I would be a first responder once they come into the building,” Warda said. “I’m hoping in the future to become a nurse practitioner.”
“This is the first contract for the Chelsea Area Fire Authority bargaining unit. They previously were not an organized group,” said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Ron Palmquist. “With the help of a state mediator, we were able to work out a final agreement that we believe is fair and equitable for both the employees and CAFA. They now have a collective bargaining agreement that both the Employer and the employees will live by. MAFF is well known for enforcing their member contracts. They agreed to pay a little bit more (toward health care and pension) in order to get the increased wages that we were able to get them. They will have a health care savings account to fund their health care when they retire - that’s not happening too often anymore. Fringe benefits were improved significantly with increased earnings and accruals in time off and the establishment of a Longevity benefit for Paid-on-Call employees when other departments are taking Longevity away.”
** First contract with MAFF.
Contract Duration: 2-year agreement, effective 1-1-15 to 12-31-16.
Wage Increases: Wage increases during the term of the contract as follows:
- 39% increase for Paid-on-Call.
- 23% increase for full-time Fire Fighters.
- 17% increase for Captains.
Union Benefits: Employees are now “Just Cause” Employees not “At-Will” Employees. Employees now have a grievance procedure with binding arbitration and a Union to represent them in resolving disputes that arise between the Employees and Administration.
Fringe Benefits: Paid Time Off (PTO) increased from a maximum of 288 hours to a maximum of 384 hours earned per year. Brought Employer in line with FLSA in determining overtime pay, which resulted in back pay for Fire Fighters. One additional Holiday for a total of 10 Holidays. Up to $500 per year Longevity payments for Paid-on-Call Fire Fighters. Additional 50 cents per hour premiums for Apparatus & Equipment Maintenance Officer, Fire Prevention/Education & Public Information Officer, MIOSHA & Information Technology (IT) Officer, Quality Assurance (Reports) & Billing Officer and Training & Continuing Education Officer.
Health Care: Employees will pay 2% of health care premiums. The Employer is opting out of PA 152 and reimbursing employees for co-pays and deductibles. Employer will pay $150 a month into a MERS Health Care Savings Program account for each full-time employee for the employee to use to fund their retiree health care.
Retirement: Maintained MERS defined benefit retirement plan increasing the multiplier by .25 cents, reducing FAC to 3 years, and adding the COLA rider E-2, 2.5% non-compounded.
Bargaining Team: Labor Relations Specialist Ron Palmquist with Association President Ian Ballard, former Association President Augustine (Augie) Syrovy, Association Secretary/Treasurer Scott Basar and Association POC Representative Chuck Downer.
“They got 3 percent a year in wage increases, so 9 percent overall. Their increase in Longevity was 2 percent per year, which was pretty big,” said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O’Connor. “Any special call outs, like HAZMAT were paid at double time.”
Contract Duration: 3-year agreement, effective 4-1-15 to 3-31-18.
- 3% wage increase each year of the contract for 9% total.
- Fire Officers annual salaries increase by $100 each year of the contract.
Retirement: Add language for proration of Longevity.
Longevity increases by 2% as follows:
- 5 to 10 years 4%
- 11 to 15 years 6%
- 16 or more years 8%
Fringe Benefits: Add Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as Holidays. All Holiday Pay hours will be compensated at double time. Add Fire Fighters responding to a Specialized County Team Rescue Activation Call (i.e. HAZMAT, Tech or Water Rescue) shall be paid double time their regular hourly rate of pay for all time spent on the activations.
Manning & Safety: All posted assignments (public education events) shall indicate if the assignment is paid or unpaid. Special Duty Assignment is defined as any assignment that is above or beyond the normal duties of a Paid-On-Call Fire Fighter. Job Postings language for all openings including: promotions, transfers, special team assignments, special duty assignments, mentor assignments or any other Fire Fighter job opportunities, should be posted for 30 days and the postings shall contain the requirements and qualifications for the posted position.
Bargaining Team: Labor Relations Specialist Joe O’Connor with Association President Dave Music.